If you're a brewer, you already know the importance of water quality in assuring a distinctive, pleasing final product. If you plan to expand your operation, if product quality suddenly changes or if you're beginning a new brewery, you'll need to do multiple tests on your water supply to be certain water measurements are consistent.

Below are the 3 main areas of water testing that should concern the craft brewer:

1) The pH level

The pH of your recipe when it gets to the mash stage is crucial. Test the water at a new location frequently before even beginning to brew. The pH levels in a municipal water supply can vary sharply from day to day.

Calculators will help you adjust recipes to address fluctuating values from location to location or from daily water source to the next day's water source. Remember that precise pH levels are required to get the optimum extraction of sugars from the grains.

2) Water softness or hardness

There is a reason Ireland is known for stout beers and Germany is famous for lighter, crisper brews. Ireland's water is hard and full of bicarbonates and calcium, while Germany's water is soft and low in carbonates and minerals.

You need to know the chlorine levels as well as baseline levels for sodium, iron, silica, chlorides and sulfates in your source of water. You also must have alkalinity tested and be prepared to adjust mashes with magnesium or calcium to neutralize the alkalinity.

These measurements should be taken on a regular basis once the brewery is established to ensure consistency of established products.

3) Turbidity

You need to know how clear the water is and what is suspended in it. Have the turbidity tested but also have water checked for any suspected local contaminants from nearby construction, flooding or drilling events.

Sediments and chemicals in a water source can make a beer taste funky or off. Regularly test water turbidity after storms and during hot and cold seasons.

Get involved to help protect local water supplies from becoming fouled by harmful practices to be certain your brewery has a clean, reliable source of water. Learn as much as you can about how water quality affects your finished product.

Find a water testing company you trust to prepare your preliminary reports. They will be happy to explain the charts and graphs to you so you can quickly locate the information you need. Invest in quality testing equipment for your everyday water checks, and be sure the equipment is kept properly calibrated and that all responsible staff are trained in proper water testing protocol. Contact a company like Valley Pump Inc for more information.

Remember: the best beer begins with the best water.